Facebook near privacy settlement with FTC

Facebook is finalizing a settlement with federal regulators over changes to its privacy policies enacted two years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The proposed settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission would resolve charges by privacy advocates that Facebook engaged in deceptive behavior.

The settlement, which is awaiting final approval by commissioners, would require Facebook to obtain consent from its users for “material retroactive changes,” according to the Journal report on Thursday citing anonymous sources. And it would subject Facebook to independent privacy audits for 20 years, the report said.

Facebook and the FTC declined to comment.

The settlement would follow a similar agreement between the FTC and Web search leader Google Inc in March. In 2010 the FTC settled charges with Twitter, which alleged that the social networking service had failed to safeguard its users’ personal information.

Facebook, the world’s No. 1 Internet social network with more than 800 million users, has often been criticized for its privacy practices.

The FTC complaints against Facebook were brought by a group of privacy advocacy organizations after the social network introduced new privacy settings in 2009. The changes required that certain personal profile information, such as a person’s gender and the city they reside in, be viewable to everyone. Previously, Facebook users could limit the people to which that information was visible.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Richard Chang)


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